Boaters transiting the mouth of the Merrimack River are being urged to use extra caution this season due to shoaling that has occurred due south of the tip of the north (Salisbury) jetty. This area is commonly used as a “bypass” route among local boaters to avoid the middle of the inlet. Mean low water depth in the shortcut channel is shown on most charts to be 10 feet, but is now reported to be 4.8 to 3 feet at low tide, causing some deep-draft boats to bottom out and creating confusing wave conditions that have taken many boaters by surprise.
“Conditions are very variable out there,” said Coast Guard Boatswain’s Mate Second Class Carl Heise, who was interviewed by the Newburyport News. “We are seeing more extensive shoaling on the north side of the channel … In the past, when the shoaling wasn’t as extensive, the boats would cut very close to the north [jetty] to miss a lot of the rough spots. With the shoaling, we’ve seen the north hole close up a lot.”
Additionally, the shoal area off the tip of the south (Plum Island) jetty, between buoys G “3” and G “5”, is reported to be much shallower than the 4 to 5 feet shown on charts.
Dredging of the river is scheduled for the fall, but that won’t help boaters this season.